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Armstrong offers perspective on ‘The Last Dance,’ former teammate Jordan – Sportsnet.ca

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B.J. Armstrong played on three NBA championship teams with Michael Jordan. He knows how Jordan is behind closed doors. He knows the sort of trials and tribulations that occur over the course of a season.

And he was amused at one bit of drama that viewers saw during the first two episodes of “The Last Dance” — the ESPN and Netflix documentary series built around Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls in 1997-98 — specifically, the part where Jordan held nothing back in critiquing the play of teammates Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc in practice.

“Let me be real candid here,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “If that is the worst you’ve seen, then you’ve never seen the Chicago Bulls before. That was nothing.”

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The first episodes that aired Sunday night shed plenty of light on the rocky relationship that then-general manager Jerry Krause had with players and coach Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen’s unhappiness with his contract, and how Jordan was constantly in an enormous spotlight.

Armstrong, the longtime Bulls guard and three-time NBA champion who is now a sports agent, knows what it takes to play alongside maybe the greatest player ever. But he said the first two episodes gave key insight on how the roots of Jordan’s career got planted.

One of Armstrong’s biggest takeaways were the stories of Jordan’s early years, how the 1-on-1 and often overheated battles with his older brother Larry helped mature him and how he continued growing at North Carolina.

“All that prepared him for the moment, right?” Armstrong said. “I think you could see how it started with his parents, and how incredibly lucky you have to be and how a lot of things have to happen in order for this to take flight, literally.”

It also showed a softer side to Jordan, a reminder that he was once a broke college kid with $20 in his account, a phone bill that he apologized to his mother for running up and how he would send letters home asking for money and stamps.

The detail from Jordan’s time at North Carolina also stood out to Armstrong, especially how Jordan said his original plan was to remain with the Tar Heels for three more seasons after helping them win the 1982 national title as a freshman.

“Think about that in today’s context, right?” Armstrong said, noting how so many of top college players now leave school after one season.

Two new episodes will air each Sunday night through May 17.

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Netherlands, Senegal advance out of Group A after wins on final match day – Sportsnet.ca

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Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, right, celebrates with teammates scoring his side’s second goal during the World Cup group A soccer match between Ecuador and Senegal, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (Francisco Seco/AP)

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'We came to make history': Canada hoping to achieve more firsts at World Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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World Cup Iran-US: Why Iran gave the US players flowers in 1998 – BBC

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Amid harsh barbs and heated geopolitics, the last World Cup match-up between Iran and the United States began with an unlikely gesture – bouquets of white flowers.

The flowers, Iran’s coach later said, were meant as a symbol of peace ahead of the 1998 showdown in France.

Two decades later, political tensions were again high ahead of the Iran-US game in Qatar.

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The latest meeting, however, went without any friendly gestures.

The previous match, held in Lyon, came 20 years after diplomatic relations between the two nations were severed as a result of the storming of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and subsequent 444 day hostage crisis.

Just one month before kick-off, the US State Department labelled Iran the world’s “most active” state sponsor of terrorism, while several high-level Iranian officials kept up a steady drumbeat of anti-US rhetoric.

Despite the tensions evident in the halls of the United Nations and in the Persian Gulf, Iran’s players – led by California-based manager Jalal Talebi – decided to start the match with a signal that the only competition between the two would be on the pitch.

“We decided to make something special,” Mr Talebi said in an oral history of the match produced by ESPN.

“Let us go inside and give them nice flowers to say that we are here for peace. We are not here for fighting or anything.”

The US team reciprocated, giving their opponents US Soccer Federation (USSF) pennants. Together, the squads posed for a group picture, with many of the players smiling ahead of the high-pressure match.

Iranian and US players in 1998

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“I thought that was great,” Cobi Jones, then a midfielder for the US team, said in the ESPN report.

“It’s just like a sign of like sport trumping politics and all that. That was very important and having the mixed photo was great.”

The days leading up to the World Cup rematch on Tuesday between the two teams were once again marked by tensions, coming amid widespread anti-government protests in Iran and just after the USSF removed the emblem of the Islamic Republican from the flag it posted in online graphics.

The pictures were later deleted, and US manager Gregg Berhalter apologised, saying that “sometimes things are out of our control” and that he and the US team were only focused on football.

The US team went into the match hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1998 game, which ended with a 2-1 victory for Iran, though both countries were eliminated from the tournament after the game.

Alexi Lalas, a Fox Sports commentator who was a member of the 1998 team, told the Associated Press that the current US team would be well advised not to ignore the wider geopolitics surrounding the current match.

“Understanding the importance of this game, not just from a soccer perspective but from a cultural perspective, I think is crucial for the United States,” he said, addressing what would motivate the US on the pitch.

The US-Iran match in Qatar ended 1-0 in the Americans’ favour after a goal from Christian Pulisic in the 38th minute.

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